High School Basketball

Pioneers struggle late in 1A state regional loss

Arlissa Oettel led the Nooksack Valley girls’ basketball team with 15 points in its 62-44 loss to Granger in a Class 1A State Tournament regional game on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Eisenhower High School in Yakima.

The Pioneers trailed the Spartans 38-37 after three quarters. In the final quarter Nooksack Valley couldn’t find its rhythm and fell victim to a 24-7 run by Granger, ending the Pioneers’ season.

Payton Linville, Emelia Gimmaka and Katrina Gimmaka each finished with six points for Nooksack Valley. Emelia Gimmaka also grabbed 10 rebounds in the game.

“In the fourth quarter we had untimely turnovers. We had a hard time hitting shots and they (Granger) caught fire,” Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers said in a phone interview. “The momentum changed. (Brianna) Turner fouled out. It was a bunch of things. Credit to them, they got after us and we had mental errors. In big games like that it costs you.”

The Pioneers had three seniors who saw their high school careers end Saturday night: Payton Linville, Mariah Perry and Lacey Johnson. The trio helped lead Nooksack Valley to the state tournament for the first time in five years, Wichers said.

“They did an outstanding job this year,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve established a tradition here and the younger kids can learn from them. Those three came to practice everyday, battled and pushed themselves. They’re great people and showed great heart all season. I’m blessed to have been able to coach them.”

On the bright side, the Pioneers will be returning most of its players for next season who can carry the success of this season into the next.

“The experience is invaluable. The only way you get it is by getting there,” Wichers said. “They have a little taste of what this is like and hopefully want to do it again and get even further. My goal is for our team to be the best it can be every season.”

The state regional game was the fifth elimination game the Pioneers played in, falling just short of a trip to Yakima for the Hardwood Classic.

“I’m so proud of my team for battling and sticking with it. They had a great season,” Wichers said.

Granger 62, Nooksack Valley 44

Nooksack Valley

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Nooksack Valley: Arlissa Oettel 15, Payton Linville 6, Mariah Perry 2, Emelia Gimmaka 6, Olivia Berkan 0, Katrina Gimmaka 6, Brianna Turner 5, Lacey Johnson 4.. Totals: 14-37 14-18 44.

Granger: Heitzman 0, Solorio 0, Oliveros 18, Molina 6, S. Blodgett 2, Castro 22, Carpenter 8, Zapien 0, P. Blodgett 4, Vazquez 2. Totals: 21-56 16-22 62.

3-point field goals — Nooksack Valley: 2 (Oettel 2); Granger: 4 (Carpenter 2). Rebounds — Nooksack Valley: 32 (E. Gimmaka 10); Granger: 33 (Castro 7). Assists — Nooksack Valley: 10 (K. Gimmaka 4); Granger: no information provided. Fouls — Nooksack Valley: 18 (Turner); Granger: 20. Turnovers — Nooksack Valley: 18; Granger: 7.

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